Zelda had stayed in bed for 3 days, having royal attendants take care of her every need as she was unable to get up from her high fever and fatigue. Fuga visited as often as they could, as waiting around in Hyrule Castle was boring at best. They would often get confused or outright nasty looks from workers when wandering about the halls aimlessly, so they thought it best to limit their movements to only the strict necessary, moving from temporary quarters to Zelda’s bedroom. Occasionally, Impa would visit as well, bringing news of Sheikah research over the days. Zelda, while bedridden, scribbled in her journal or added something to her research notes, or completed a puzzle here and there, read passages from a novel, anything to keep her mind occupied. Fuga, meanwhile, stayed at her side, telling stories or had stories told to them.
“You mentioned once that the Yiga had different beliefs… Can you tell me what those are?”
“Oh, right now?” Asked Fuga.
“Now seems as good a time as any.”
“Ok, well… we sorta… have our own version of the legend of the darkness, of Malice and Demise. This is the way it’s been told to me, many, many years ago: ‘A prince, benevolent ruler, cursed by Demise to be entrapped in Malice, will one day be freed by the sword that seals the darkness and the light within would be revealed, hushering Hyrule into a new age of prosperity.
“Who’s the prince?”
“We… Think it might be a prince who lived 10,000 years ago… who became what we know today as Malice, darkness and evil incarnate. We can’t really know for certain, but he might’ve been a Gerudo. Are- are you writing it down?”
Zelda, who had been scribbling while Fuga was talking, looked up from her page.
“O-oh, yes, I hope that’s alright. I want to compile versions of the legend in order to have a more… complete picture of Malice.”
“Oh! Yes! When you’re feeling better, we could ask archivists of each province, see if they have other versions as well!”
After resting another day, Zelda was finally back on her feet and ready to face another trial, whatever that may be. She got up, feeling well enough to wake up early, and went to Fuga’s temporary quarters to wake them. She knocked at the door and announced herself. The door opened moments later to what seemed like a stranger to Zelda. She stared directly into Fuga’s tired eyes and they stared back. She had never seen their face before, so she slightly recoiled until they spoke, confirming it was indeed Fuga she was staring at.
“What time is it?”
“Um… 5 in the morning.”
Fuga turned away and mumbled a “let me get ready” while Zelda, still baffled and standing in the open doorway, blurted out a question.
Fuga touched their face and, realising their mistake, looked around the room for their mask frantically.
They were wide awake now, but realised something while looking for their mask. They stopped and turned to Zelda.
“Well, this isn’t… How we usually do it. It’s a lot more formal. Usually.”
“Revealing one’s true face! It’s a– a ritual of sorts, when you feel you trust a loved one enough to reveal your true face to them,” they spoke as they cleaned up their room and gathered things. “It’s a lot more– more official, more formal, usually, but this’ll do just as good I suppose. I do trust you enough.”
“I was actually planning on doing that… for a while now, it’s just a little… awkward to bring up traditions around people who haven’t grown up with them.”
“Well, I’m glad you consider me a good enough friend to reveal your true face to me,” Zelda said with a smile.
Fuga didn’t have the heart to explain to Zelda the difference between “good enough friend” and “loved one”, that difference mattered very much, but it would have to come later. As for now, Fuga had to get ready for a big day ahead of them, as Zelda explained what she had planned.
They left the gates of Hyrule Castle at 7 in the morning, having left two hours to enjoy breakfast and get ready, both them and their horses. They took the road through Mabe Prairie and rode for the entire morning until they stopped at the Great Plateau’s Gatepost Town for lunch, which Zelda then explained why it had become a ghost town.
“Years ago, the Great Plateau was used for official ceremonies and the such, but a recent earthquake caused land to fall at the gate, blocking it for good. The Sheikah researchers were lucky enough to have found the Sheikah Slate in the Shrine of Resurrection before that. Since then, there’s been little to no travel from Hyrule Castle to the Great Plateau, so the Gatepost Town got less and less trade. Most people had to move out back in Castle Town or to another Hylian settlement.”
The shadow of the Great Plateau loomed over Fuga as they looked at its sturdy stone walls. Why had this been built in the first place? By whom? Thought Fuga. How had it been built?
Many questions left unanswered, they continued their route south and crossed the Bridge of Hylia, until they finally reached Faron Woods. The tropical climate made the air warm and their clothes stick to their skin. Their horses slowed their pace as they navigated through the vines and roots carefully. They finally reached the Zonai Ruins at around dinner time, when their stomachs started voicing their hunger. Fuga asked if Zelda wanted to take a break, for dinner or for the night, and Zelda agreed to both. They set up a quick camp, but unable to create a campfire with the wet wood that surrounded them, they settled for a meal of fruit and nuts.
In the morning, they continued their route to the Spring of Courage on foot, climbing over small cliffs when necessary, having Fuga help whenever necessary, and they followed the Dracozu river slowly, trying not to trip over large roots and stone structures depicting large lizards. As they arrived, Fuga finally asked a question that had been on their mind.
“Wh-what is this place?”
“The Spring of Courage, in the midst of the Zonai Ruins.”
“And… What are the Zonai ruins?”
“Um… We don’t really know. There’s no– no records we could find of the Zonai, but we believe they were settled in Faron originally, or at least worshipped here, but were settled over the entirety of Hyrule, as evidenced by their ruins found… everywhere. We also think they might have been ancestors to the Ancient Sheikah, as their technology can be found in the ruins, perhaps using them as an additional trial, but never the other way around, if– if that makes sense. And… of course, the Hylians used the Zonai ruins to put their own worship. Like here.”
They had stopped in front of the Spring of Courage.
“Wanna try what we had planned?”
Zelda nodded and Fuga took out multiple items from their bag. Zelda walked into the water, warm enough to be comfortable, and took the items handed to her. Rupees in a bag, at a sum of 20,000, she held the bag up using both her hands and called out dramatically:
“Great Goddess Hylia, I present to you an offering of 20,000 Rupees. Please accept this gift and grant my wish to awaken my power.”
Fuga snickered at the drama.
“Don’t laugh!” Zelda laughed as well. “You’ll ruin it.”
She placed the bag of Rupees on the pedestal at the feet of the statue of the Goddess.
“Feel any different?” Asked Fuga.
After a moment to consider, Zelda shook her head. They presented multiple items in quick succession, from a piece of fruitcake Zelda had cooked herself to a chillfin trout to even the unfortunate remains of an icy lizalfos, both Fuga and Zelda judging that ice was indeed the element that represented the Triforce of Wisdom, hoping it would make the request clearer. They even presented a sapphire and a star fragment, to no avail.
“Nope,” confirmed Zelda. “I really don’t feel anything has changed.”
“Want to try the other thing?”
“I’m not gonna fight you!” Laughed Zelda.
“Why not!” Fuga laughed along. “Maybe using it in a fighting situation is the only way to unlock your sealing power!”
“Okay, okay,” Zelda stopped her laughter. “How… How proficient are you right now wielding that sword on your back? I don’t want to get accidentally cut into slices.”
“Hm…” Fuga took the Master Sword out of its sheath and pointed it to Zelda. “I can’t promise you that.”
“What would father think if he saw us, right now,” muttered Zelda, under her breath. A Yiga about to fight the princess of Hyrule. “Okay, I’m ready. I think.”
Fuga slowly circled Zelda, like a predator stalking its prey, or some other allegory that misrepresented the situation they had both placed themselves in. Suddenly, Fuga swung their sword and stopped it centimetres away from Zelda’s right arm. She recoiled from the surprise, but was uninjured from the pretend hit.
“I don’t think this’ll do it.”
“Yeah, I have a feeling this sword isn’t meant to kill Hylia’s descendant,” Fuga smiled.
“You bet! I can’t believe you had even tried to threaten me with that just months ago,” added Zelda.
“So… it’s a bust then?”
Zelda nodded, a little disappointed that all these trials had given them no results.
“We’ll get other chances,” reassured Fuga. “I bet it was better than standing around in the water praying, though.”
“It was,” Zelda smiled, happy that her day had gone quite differently than if she had followed her father’s advice. “We’ll try something else next time.”